November is Bladder Health Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to get the facts about common bladder health conditions including urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and overactive bladder to name a few.
If you experience any of these issues, you’re not alone. UTIs account for approximately 8.3 million doctor visits per year in the United States, and about 20% of women who have a UTI will have a recurrence. Overactive bladder (OAB), a condition characterized by frequent urination and an urgent need to urinate, effects about 39 million Americans.
A number of natural supplements can support bladder health and help to relieve symptoms associated with these conditions. Here are a few with research-proven symptom relief.
Uva ursi (also known as bearberry) was commonly used by Native Americans to treat UTIs. Researchers have found that the herb works to fight infection due to several chemicals, hydroquinone for one.
While uva ursi is commonly used to treat a UTI, a study of women with chronic UTIs found that uva ursi used in combination with dandelion root and leaf was successful at preventing UTIs as well.
Because hydroquinone can be potentially toxic to the liver, uva ursi should not be taken for long periods of time. When taken to treat a UTI, the herb works best when used at the first sign of infection.
Bacteria that can lead to a UTI can be kept in check by making sure you have enough “good” bacteria or probiotics in your diet. Probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut are one way to ingest these beneficial bacteria.
Probiotic supplements are another option, and you can choose a probiotic with strains that studies have shown to be beneficial against UTIs.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum are two strains that have been shown to reduce UTI risk.
For probiotics to do their job, stick to a regimen and supplement daily for a least a couple of months.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
The extract of the pumpkin seed is a rich source of vitamins and fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil has been studied heavily for its benefits to men suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy, also known as an enlarged prostate, that can lead to urinary issues.
A 2014 Japanese study evaluated pumpkin seed oil for its ability to improve symptoms of OAB in both male and female subjects. After receiving 10 grams of pumpkin seed oil daily for 12 weeks, the subjects’ OAB symptoms were reduced and no undesired side effects were reported.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.